SIDNEY – A decision on whether to continue with a fulltime security presence at Fairlawn Local School was examined during a board of education work session Monday night. A final decision is expected at their July 13 regular meeting.
Superintendent Jeff Hobbs said the work session was called as part of finalizing the financial budget for the 2017-18 school year. Board members are examing options that would trim the budget.
Hobbs reported the overall cost for a fulltime resource officer for the just concluded school year was $52,000. It was the first year the school had a fulltime officer on the campus in Sgt. Scott Atwood of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department.
For some 15 years prior, the school had a part time officer, Bill Booth, also of the sheriff’s office.
Two people spoke to the board regarding varied security programs.
Mark Henman, owner of Tactical Solutions Firearms and Accessories of Pasco, spoke with board members about steps taken by other school districts. He has reportedly worked with Sidney City and Hardin-Houston Local school districts to train individuals for their chosen security programs.
If directed by the board, Henman would train district employees regarding firearms, gun safes, and other security measures to protect students. Rates for various weapons would vary, but an estimated cost of $300 per person for a three-day training would be offered. It would cost an additional $85 to provide the means for individuals to obtain a concealed carry permit.
The board also heard from Ted Downing, superintendent of the Bright Local School District in Mowrystown, located near Hillsboro in Highland County.
Hobbs told the board that he and board president Bob Gold have served on a state small school committee with Downing for some time. Downing administers a district similar in size to Fairlawn. Hobbs felt his experiences could serve as an option locally.
Downing said his district currently has no fulltime resource officer, but does have five legally armed and trained employees on the grounds throughout the day. The plan is to add another five by the start of the next school year.
Hobbs said Downing’s district is an estimated 19 to 23 minutes in response time for law enforcement, if an incident occurred. Fairlawn falls into that same category, he said.
Current public training seminars urge citizens to learn to protect themselves until an armed response arrives. Hobbs said protecting students to the most important thing regarding security issues.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.